Student Blog

Make Your Summer A Paradise of Productivity

Busy Summer ahead? From the missed TV series to the Summer job, the personal statement to the University Open Day, it’s not surprising if you’ve got a lot on your mind. But these summer productivity tips will help you clear your head.

Shake all your ideas out on a piece of paper and call it a to-do list. Such is the advice of personal productivity guru, David Allen. In the revised edition of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (2015), Allen’s basic position is clear: unloading the various plans jamming your mind’s highways and side-streets enables you to focus better on the task at hand.

However, he doesn’t merely encourage writing things down. Allen’s model goes further: it emphasises prioritising, categorising, and timing your activities. This gives your mind precise instructions and a somewhat more rigid structure to follow than that produced by a simple list of things to do. But is there any chance of such rigid to-do lists in the relaxed climate of summertime?

Summer holiday to-do lists can legitimately be suspected of being more likely to fail than a to-do list at any other time. For starters, there is no longer a school-home split, which makes categorising tasks into neat little boxes much more difficult. And what’s more, without strict deadlines it will be much harder to prioritise actions and schedule them. Unlike during the school year, you don’t have to put academia first.

But to-do lists, as David Allen says, may be valuable tools. So how can they be made to work during summer holidays too?


 Goals- Think Twice

With seemingly masses of time on the shelf, it’s easy to have an apparently endless to-do list.  You can’t do everything! Use the additional time to reflect on your goals: as far as possible, distinguish between the important ones and the urgent ones.

The urgent ones could include the things that can’t be done once term has begun again. It can be tempting to put aside the important ones for later if they are not urgent now – but don’t succumb! The personal statement is a classic case: the deadline may seem to be many calendar pages away but when you consider all the steps involved in a good personal statement, you’ll realise every day counts.

 Plans- Think Ahead 

Like most things, summer holidays have an expiry date. Be aware of what this is and ask yourself whether you can realistically squeeze everything from your to-do list in.

Sort out what your priorities are, and then set out an order for your actions and deadlines by which they need to be completed.  Again, a pinch of realism: leave appropriate windows of time empty, just in case something takes longer than expected.

Routines- Think Back 

Now you’re on a summer break, don’t ditch your daily routines from school days completely; perhaps water them down by cutting out the homework or the commute but keep the framework.  They are great for waking you up and getting you stuck into your to-do list, no matter how exciting or dull.

It may be a struggle to get through a to-do list in the summertime, but its worth the effort of planning out what you want to do. Just think how much happier you’ll be in September, looking back at all the wonderful things you’ve accomplished in your time off.

Written by Harshadha Balasubramanian


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